Max Homa’s first win on the PGA Tour, the Wells Fargo Championship in May, might have been a surprise to some, but for him, it was about seven months in the making. His coach, Les Johnson, worked with him in Arizona for a couple of days late last fall after Homa made only one of six cuts to start the season. “I was playing terrible and wanted to take some time to review everything about my game—really go at it,” he says. And they did, especially paying attention to his short game and driving. Homa shares what they worked on, because he thinks it can help your game, too. But he wanted to give you one piece of advice before you read further: Put the scorecard away before making any major changes. If you’re still in season mode and your handicap matters, you’re going to struggle to commit to anything that feels or looks different than what you’re currently doing. You need time to adjust, but patience pays off. It certainly did for him.
MY DRIVER FIX
Less Tilt / Less Timing
I’m not missing drives way, way right that much anymore, and it’s because of the way I set up and swing down into the ball. I used to have too much spine tilt. My left hip and shoulder would get too high starting at setup and continuing into the swing. Then I’d rely on my hands to square the club on the way down. If my timing was off, my driving was awful. Now I have this feeling that my shoulders are a lot more level as I swing back and down. There’s still some tilt—you need your spine to tilt away from the target to hit up on the ball—but for me it feels like I’m keeping my left shoulder down a lot more. This is a good swing thought if you tend to leave your weight on your back foot in the downswing, which I see a lot from my pro-am partners. A lower left shoulder helps shift your weight into your front foot’s heel as you swing into the ball, and that will help you power through the hitting area.
MY CHIPPING FIX
Less Wrists / Less Dig
Chipping from tight lies was becoming borderline mental for me. I’d lean the shaft, come in steep and hit these crappy shots with no spin or distance control. I texted Justin Thomas about it because he’s so good at these shots. He told me to stop trying to hit all these finesse shots with a lob wedge. It’s all about using whatever club will get the ball to the hole without digging into the turf. If that means using a 7-iron for a cross-country chip, so be it. Just remember this technique: I’ve gone to a really wide swing arc with less wrist hinge going back. The club comes into the ball on a way shallower angle, and the bottom of the swing is longer. What that means for you is, it’s a lot more forgiving. The club can skim the turf even an inch or two behind the ball, and you’ll still hit a decent chip. No more worrying about precise contact. And that’s good, because golf is a game of coping with imperfections.
MY PUTTING FIX
Less Variance/ Less Guessing
Putting is all about doing the same thing over and over so the outcome is more predictable. I needed a process that would repeat on a week-to-week basis, and I have that now. One thing I constantly check is that my left eye looks down directly over the inside edge of the golf ball. I’m hovering over a putting mirror almost every day to make sure that stays the same so I strike the ball with the face square to my line. If you can’t do that, you’re not going to make many. I also have worked hard on building a consistent path for my stroke. That’s how you find the center of the putterface every time and make sure you get solid contact—not hitting the ball nearer the toe or toward the heel. Hit it dead center, and you can get the ball to the hole every time. So if your stroke isn’t textbook, don’t worry. Just stick to it. If you want to avoid big fixes, repeatability in your game is huge.
Originally Appeared on Golf Digest